Category Archives: Events

Wagers Say “Do The Right Thing” to President Sullivan at Conference on Ethics

Happy Birthday, TJ!

It’s Founder’s Day.

The University is celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday with many events including a conference entitled  “Telling the Truth and Doing the Right Thing: Accountability, Guilt, and Forgiveness in the Ethical University.” When I first saw the invite I chuckled a little — Can the University seriously call the corporate operation it runs, ethical? Can they actually pretend that without a living wage this institution is doing the right thing?

Apparently they can. President Sullivan is the first speaker.

And so this Founder’s Day we ask, “What Would TJ Do?” I’m afraid the answer is not so pretty —Jefferson owned slaves. He owned the laborers who built this University and they were not compensated. It’s hard to see a slave owner as an impeccable standard for ethics.

I think it best to consider Jefferson’s hopes for U.Va.: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

I think we’re on our own with this one. Luckily we have reasoned and followed truth to a living wage, the results of which are detailed in our research document, “Keeping Our Promises.” We cannot tolerate the error the University makes by keeping its wages low and its contractor wages even lower. It will be a great day when we can say that we have come full circle on employment practices at this fine University; from paying workers nothing to paying an ethical wage, a living wage.

We will be at the conference picketing to ask President Sullivan to do the right thing as she argues for in her own research. You remember her book, The Social Organization of Work, where she says on page 63: “Being paid a living wage for one’s work is a necessary condition for self-actualization.” In her heart of hearts I believe she wants to do the right thing. We will be there in Jeffersonian fashion to hold her accountable until she does.


written by Wager Seth Kaye

Press Release: April 13 – Do The Right Thing at Conference on Ethics (PDF)

Day 11: Gearing Up for Another Round of Meetings

Today was another busy day for the Living Wage campaign at UVa. In the eleventh day of a hunger strike that is gathering increasing national attention (see Ms. Magazine, the Huffington Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times), the campaign and their negotiation team prepared for a second meeting with University President Teresa Sullivan and other key university administrators. While the meeting with administrators on Monday produced few tangible results, the Wagers remain determined to continue meeting with the administration as long as possible in order to push for the adoption of their core demands.

The campaign will announce the results of their second meeting with administrators at their mid-day rally at noon on the steps of the Rotunda. Join the Facebook event here. Come out and show your support as we announce the next steps for the Living Wage campaign. Tomorrow will be the twelfth day of the ongoing hunger strike.